India’s recent performance in agriculture has been favorable, with agricultural production growing over the past 30 years. Yet there is widespread consensus that, relative to the rest of the economy, agriculture is lagging and that it can and must do much better to support India’s overall high economic growth and dynamism. This book explores the future and presents the audacious question: what could the agricultural sector in India look like 30 years from now and how should it look if it is to successfully meet the needs of the country s affluent society? In order to address this question, this book proposes a set of recommendations that should be implemented on a priority basis. These recommendations are as follows: (i) make public programs much more focused and effective; (ii) recognize water as a critical, long-term constraint to India’s agricultural growth and give top priority to significantly improving the efficiency of water use; (iii) promote new high-yield seeds and related technologies, including mechanization, to improve yields and productivity; (iv) improve the effectiveness of agricultural research and extension; (v) support further improvements of the farm-to-market value chain and reduce spoilage; and (vi) improve markets and incentives related to agriculture through reforms of prices, trade, and subsidies. The vision of what India’s economy in 2040 should and can look like, with an affluent and modern agricultural sector, will require fundamental changes in both the demand and supply sides of Indian agriculture. The vision is based not on projections but on how India’s agricultural sector needs to adapt to match the economy s progress as a whole. This vision is plausible but it is by no means certain.
Dr. Chandra G. Ranade, an agricultural economist with a background with the World Bank, recently reviewed the work:
“This is an excellent book to read to understand where Indian agriculture is headed in the next two decades. The book, edited by Marco Ferroni, contains articles by internationally recognized experts of economic development. The chapter by Harinder S. Kohli and Anil Sood sets the stage by discussing ‘legacies of the past’. The chapter on the structural changes, by Hans P. Binswanger-Mkhize, shows that India is yet to fully pursue the path of rural to urban transformation seen in other fast growing economies. The chapter on agricultural diversification by Pratap S. Birthal, PK Joshi and A. V. Narayanan shows where agricultural production is progressing in India. That chapter highlights importance of non traditional subsectors in agriculture. There is a chapter, by Richard Ackerman, entirely devoted for water as a key resource, not only in agriculture but also in the rural-urban transformation. The last three chapters on agricultural research and markets by Marco Ferroni, Partha R. Das Gupta, Bart Minten, Thomas Reardon and Yuan Zhau show enormous importance of markets and modern technologies in achieving prosperous agriculture. After reading the book, I felt that, if the Indian government focusses on strategic areas, such as water, agricultural research and extension, and leaves the rest to market forces, India will achieve what is discussed in this book. Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the Foreword for the book states that in the past decade India has already increased agricultural growth rate from 2.4 to 3.4 percent. With the kind of agricultural diversification going on in India, the next five year plans should increase the target rate from 4% to 6%.”